The true meanings and often surprising origins of 40 best-loved traditional nursery rhymes
Many of the catchy songs we grew up with were not nonsense verses for the playground but served as satirical commentaries on political events of the day, spreading subversive messages at a time when illiteracy was commonplace in society and direct criticism of the authorities was punishable by prison or death. Sing a Song of Sixpence, a Pocketful of Rye, Four and Twenty Blackbirds Baked in a Pie—was this simply about a delicacy of the day, or was it a coded message used to recruit members for Blackbeard's pirate ships? Was Little Bo Peep simply about an inattentive shepherdess, or was it a tale of booze smuggling? This book offers a trip down memory lane and some fascinating food for thought for anyone interested in English history and language.